His first competitive customer was a payphone, to which he provided a line, outside a downtown Toronto chicken shop. After the dot-com bust, many of his initial customers went bankrupt, so he started going door to door to sell long distance to hotels. The first one he signed up was the Comfort Inn in Niagara Falls, where he once worked as a front-desk clerk.
During its first year, Globalive Communications had total sales of $3,291. Its 2013 sales will top $300-million.
“I started with zero and have built Globalive from scratch,” he says. “I have always risked everything and that is the main reason people like [Egyptian telecom tycoon] Naguib [Sawiris] have bought into me. If I fail, I am road kill. And investors appreciate when an entrepreneur has their whole life on the line.”
Although the wireless wars have proven more difficult than expected, Mr. Lacavera has no interest in selling out.
He also has other projects on his mind, like starting a family. He currently lives in a downtown condo with his girlfriend of two years, Kimberly Underwood, and their dog, a Morkie named Lulu. “So, [Kimberly] is the CEO of our household. And I would say the dog is certainly a lieutenant and I am the deeply subordinated sous-chef.”
A workout buff, Mr. Lacavera refuses to stay in hotels if the gym isn’t up to snuff. His other hobbies include skiing, flying his plane, producing theatre and binge watching shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Star Trek.
He is also fixated with time. He figures that humans have about 80 “useful” years since they can’t really achieve anything before age 10 and need to slow down at 90. That means he has about “450,000 total useful lifetime hours” since humans spend about eight hours a day eating and sleeping.
“Once you start to look at life like that, you just go all in all the time,” he says. In fact, he is so focused on our conversation that he is running late for his next meeting. He’s torn because he has so much left to say – especially about Bell and Rogers. So he offers some parting shots.
“The day that Bell and Rogers stop using their own media assets to advance their own media plan, or the day that I own my own media assets, will be the day that I will stop trying to tell anyone that I can what our message is,” he says. “But until that day, I’m the voice. And I am the only guy standing up for competition.”